How to select a solution to solve transport challenges

Selecting the most appropriate intervention or option to address a transport challenge is the next step after defining the problem, determining the strategy and desired outcomes and analysing the challenges.

Usually, there is more than one way to address any transport challenge. Different options have unique contributions, key stakeholders, resourcing and risk profiles.

A package of interventions may be the most appropriate, for example in addressing a road safety speeding problem, the most effective approach will be a combination of engineering (check speed limits), education (advertising), and enforcement (speed camera) – see article: Emerging fourth ‘E’ in improving road safety.

Addressing Transport Challenges process

Generate Options

The main types of interventions are:

  1. Advocacy – such as influencing behaviour through public education
  2. Collaboration – in partnership with key stakeholders
  3. Economic – using taxpayer funds or taxing powers as incentive
  4. Service Delivery – such as provision of public services
  5. Legal – legislation and regulations.

One mistake I often see is a focus on a preferred approach… “this is how we have always done this…”

You should always consider alternative approaches, for example if we have a local traffic congestion problem:

  • minor infrastructure upgrade, such as providing a lane widening at an intersection where there is a bottleneck
  • non-infrastructure option, such as increasing parking pricing to deter traffic to a congested area
  • integrating transport and land use, such as encouraging mixed use development at a transport hub
  • use transport technology, such as variable speed limits to reduce traffic flow breakdown
  • staging project implementation, particularly when funds are not currently available, and progress some low cost components.

Evaluate Options

You should establish criteria for selecting a preferred option or intervention early on, before getting to option evaluation, as this allows a consistent approach when comparing options.

Criteria used should involve a combination of technical application and political practicality – some questions to help guide your choice of intervention include:

  • Efficient: will it be cost-effective?
  • Effective: will it get the job done?
  • Appropriate: is this a reasonable way of proceeding?
  • Equity: are the consequences likely to be fair and reasonable?
  • Doable: someone can readily deliver the instrument?
  • Scalable: can it adapt to changing circumstances (expanded, contracted)?

Key Concepts

  • interventions are means to address transport challenges and achieve desired outcomes
  • there are five basic types: advocacy, collaboration, economic, delivery, legal
  • selecting the most appropriate intervention is difficult and often involves trade-offs
  • criteria to evaluate interventions will involve a combination of technical application and political practicality.

To learn more check out the online course Addressing Transport Challenges.

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